QWhat basic tools should I carry with me for a trip that will take me beyond the reaches of the RAC and AA?
ASimon Fear of Arden Motorcycles (www.ardenmotorcycles.co.uk) says: Before you leave, try removing the body panels, wheels, and spark plugs on your bike using just the one tool kit. If you can’t do it then go and buy the additional tools needed. Throw away any open-ended spanners and replace them with ring spanners. You will also need good-quality pliers and side cutters; don’t forget your tubeless tyre repair kit or tyre levers if you have tubed tyres, too. I’ve known people take spare tubes on a trip but not tyre levers. In my experience, zip-ties get used in the majority of roadside repairs and I never leave home without them.
QI’m off to do the Balkans next year and I take prescription medication; what’s the best way to get my prescription filled while I’m away?
ANHS Direct says: If you need regular medication for a stable long-term health condition, your GP may prescribe a maximum supply of three months’ dosage. If you’re going abroad for more than three months, your GP may prescribe medication to last until you can make arrangements to get it at your destination by registering with a doctor in the country you’re visiting or buying the medication from a a pharmacist while you’re away.
Before you travel, find out if there are any restrictions on taking your medicine in and out of the UK and the country you’re visiting. Some medicines available over the counter in the UK may be controlled in other countries and vice versa. For more information, see www.nhs.uk or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
QWhat should I be doing to make sure my bike survives winter storage unscathed?
APenny Cox, Motorcycle Editorial Manager for Haynes Publishing, says: For many a motorcyclist now is time to hang up the helmet and seek the refuge of four wheels until the spring. Preparation is key, particularly if bikes are to be stored for long periods of time in cold, damp atmospheres such as garages and sheds – you don’t want any nasty or expensive surprises come spring when the warmer, dryer conditions return and you’re raring to get back on the road. The following areas are the ones to look out for:
Remove it from the bike – in extreme cases of cold the battery may freeze and crack its case
Check the electrolyte level and top up if necessary (conventional refillable batteries). Clean the terminals
Store the battery off the motorcycle and away from any sources of fire; position a wooden block under the battery if it is to sit on the ground
Give the battery a charge for a few hours every month or invest in a trickle charger which enables a regular constant charge to be applied
Remove the spark plug(s) and lubricate the cylinder bores with approximately a teaspoon of motor oil using a spout-type oil can
Reinstall the spark plug(s). Crank the engine over a couple of times to coat the piston rings and bores with oil
If your bike has carburettors, drain them of fuel otherwise there is a risk of jets becoming blocked by gum deposits from the fuel
Consider adding a fuel stabiliser to the fuel in the tank to prevent internal corrosion occurring. If the tank is drained completely, beware that corrosion of its internal surfaces may occur if left unprotected for a long period
The tank can be treated with a rust preventative especially for this purpose.
Alternatively, remove the tank from the motorcycle and pour half a litre of motor oil into it, install the filler cap and shake the tank to coat its internals with oil before draining off the excess. The same effect can also be achieved by spraying WD40 or a similar water-dispersant around the inside of the tank via its flexible nozzle
On bikes with liquid-cooling systems, make sure that the cooling system contains the correct mix of antifreeze. Antifreeze also contains important corrosion inhibitors
The air intakes and exhaust can be sealed off by covering or plugging the openings. In the case of the exhaust silencers make sure that you do not seal in any condensation; run the engine until it is hot, then switch off and allow to cool. Tape a piece of thick plastic over the silencer end(s). Note that some advocate pouring a tablespoon of motor oil into the silencer(s) before sealing them off
Place the bike on its centre stand. Where only a side stand is fitted, use an auxiliary stand to support the motorcycle in an upright position
Position a piece of board or blocks of wood under the tyres to keep them off the ground and to provide insulation from damp
Deflate each tyre by 5 to 10 psi, no more or the beads may unseat from the rim, making subsequent inflation difficult on tubeless tyres
Lubricate all lever, pedal, stand and footrest pivot points. If grease nipples are fitted to the rear suspension components, apply lubricant to the pivots
Lubricate all control cables
Apply a wax protectant to all painted and plastic components. Wipe off any excess, but don’t polish to a shine. Where fitted, clean the screen with soap and water
Coat metal parts with Vaseline (petroleum jelly). When applying this to the fork tubes, do not compress the forks otherwise the seals will rot from contact with the Vaseline
Apply a vinyl cleaner to the seat
Aim to store the bike in a shed or garage which does not leak and is free from damp
Drape an old blanket or bedspread over the bike to protect it from dust and direct contact with sunlight (which will fade paint). This also hides the bike from prying eyes. Beware of tight-fitting plastic covers which may allow condensation to form and settle on the bike
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